Not all those who wander are lost
Have the strength to be true to yourself even if you don't know who you are yet - Paulo Coelho
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uraniaproject: Milky Way Above Easter Island (2012 Jun 18) 
Why were the statues on Easter Island  built? No one is sure. What is sure is that over 800 large stone statues exist there. The Easter Island statues , stand, on the average, over twice as tall as a person and have over 200 times as much mass. Few specifics are known about the history or meaning of the unusual statues , but many believe that they were created about 500 years ago in the images  of local leaders of a lost civilization. Pictured above , some of the stone giants were illuminated in 2009 under the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy.
Image Credit & Copyright: Manel Soria
the-star-stuff: Edge-on Beauty (NGC 891)  
Visible in the constellation of Andromeda, NGC 891 is located approximately 30 million light-years away from Earth. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope turned its powerful wide field Advanced Camera for Surveys towards this spiral galaxy and took this close-up of its northern half. The galaxy’s central bulge is just out of the image on the bottom left.
Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble
Of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn’t meant to be reasonable.
— Breakfast of Champions (Kurt Vonnegut)

(via vonnegutgroupie)

the-star-stuff: “Most Amazing Earth Image” From the Other Side

NASA said that their Blue Marble 2012 was “the most amazing image of Earth ever.” Now they have released the other half, answering to popular demand.

This look at the East hemisphere “is a composite of six separate orbits taken on January 23, 2012 by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite. Both of these new ‘Blue Marble’ images are images taken by a new instrument flying aboard Suomi NPP, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite.”

[NASA Goddard Flickr]

crookedindifferenceThe Solar System set to Music

Mandala (A Musical Palindrome), by Daniel Starr-Tambor

With more than 62 vigintillion individual notes, “Mandala” is the longest palindrome in existence. Composed using the first nine partials of the Natural Harmonic Series repeating at the accelerated tempos of our solar system, Mandala would continue without repetition for over 532.25 septendecillion years. In homage to “Art of the Fugue” by J.S. Bach, “Mandala” has been crafted to include the “musical signature” of it’s author: the stereo imaging is arranged to reflect the exact position of the solar system at the moment of his birth, from the perspective of the Sun as it faces the constellation Libra, so that each note chronicles his birthday on every planet.

(via crookedindifference)

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the-star-stuff:

Helix Nebula Gleams Like a Golden Eye in New Photo
ESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) has captured this unusual view of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), a planetary nebula located 700 light-years away. The coloured picture was created from images taken through Y, J and K infrared filters. While bringing to light a rich background of stars and galaxies, the telescope’s infrared vision also reveals strands of cold nebular gas that are mostly obscured in visible images of the Helix.
CREDIT: ESO/VISTA/J. Emerson. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit 
Recipe for a Universe
Take a massive explosion to create plenty of stardust and a raging heat. Simmer for an eternity in a background of cosmic microwaves. Let the ingredients congeal and leave to cool and serve cold with cultures of tiny organisms 13.7 billion years later.
To understand the basic ingredients and the ‘cooking conditions’ of the cosmos, from the beginning of time to the present day, particle physicists have to try and reverse-engineer the ‘dish’ of the Universe. Within the complex concoction, cryptic clues hide the instructions for the cosmic recipe.
Slowly simmer
Space, time, matter… everything originated in the Big Bang, an incommensurably huge explosion that happened 13.7 billion years ago. The Universe was then incredibly hot and dense but only a few moments after, as it started to cool down, the conditions were just right to give rise to the building blocks of matter – in particular, the quarks and electrons of which we are all made. A few millionths of a second later, quarks aggregated to produce protons and neutrons, which in turn were bundled into nuclei three minutes later.
Then, as the Universe continued to expand and cool, things began to happen more slowly. It took 380,000 years for the electrons to be trapped in orbits around nuclei, forming the first atoms. These were mainly helium and hydrogen, which are still by far the most abundant elements in the Universe.
Another 1.6 million years later, gravity began to take control as clouds of gas began to form stars and galaxies. Since then heavier atoms, such as carbon, oxygen and iron, of which we are all made, have been continuously ‘cooked’ in the hearts of the stars and stirred in with the rest of the Universe each time a star comes to a spectacular end as a supernova.
The mystery ingredient
So far so good but there is one small detail left out: cosmological and astrophysical observations have now shown that all of the above accounts for only a tiny 4% of the entire Universe. In a way, it is not so much the visible things, such as planets and galaxies, that define the Universe, but rather the void around them!
Most of the Universe is made up of invisible substances known as ‘dark matter’ (26%) and ‘dark energy’ (70%). These do not emit electromagnetic radiation, and we detect them only through their gravitational effects. What they are and what role they played in the evolution of the Universe are a mystery, but within this darkness lie intriguing possibilities of hitherto undiscovered physics beyond the established Standard Model.
Figure: Time Line of the Universe (Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team)